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Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "Members of Congress are now out of touch with the American people. Discuss"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note contains some of the key terms and examples that you could if you were discussing whether Congress is "in touch" with the American people.

Start by making sure you can explain each of the key terms below:

  • Congressmen
  • Representatives
  • Senators
  • Trustee Model
  • Representative Model
  • Earmarks
  • Pork Barrel Politics
  • Amendments
  • Re-election campaigns
  • Constituents
  • Voter Discontent
  • Safe States
  • Gerrymandering
  • Term Limits
  • Incumbency
  • Donors

Contemporary Examples

Congress is out of touch:

  1. In 2014, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor lost his primary battle to stay as Representative for Virginia
  2. The $6bn price tag of the 2012 election means that it deters competition and allows politicians to be beholden to donors.
  3. Only 11% of people think Congress is actually doing a good job in a recent round of polling in 2015.

Congress is not out of touch:

  1. The total incumbency rate for the 2014 mid terms was a staggering 96%, so voters can’t be too unhappy.
  2. Representatives attempt to secure ‘pork’ for their constituents such as the Alaskan bridge to nowhere which would have cost $398 million
  3. Arkansas had $245,000 allocated in pork projects for a Truck Driving school in 2010

Historical Examples

Congress is out of touch:

  1. The lack of term limits mean that some Congressmen have served for a long time. Senator Robert C. Byrd serviced West Virginia from 1959 to 2010 a total of 51 years.
  2. The House changed hands three times from 2006 through to 2010 thus showing constituents are unhappy with their representatives.

Congress is not out of touch:

  1. From 1954 through to 1994 the Democrats held onto the House of Representatives, thus showing people were not unhappy with their representatives.
  2. Pork projects were secured in 1982 in the form of the Big Dig project in Boston which was secured by Tip O’Neill. It cost $14.6bn in the end.

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